Snorkelling

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Snorkelling between tectonic plates at Silfra in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park

Snorkelling between tectonic plates at Silfra in Iceland's Thingvellir National


Remember these geography classes in school the place you learnt about continental drift and the motion of the earth’s crust? Iceland lies alongside the mid-Atlantic Ridge and exists due to the divergence of two tectonic plates – the North American plate and the Eurasian plate – and an amazing place to see this primary hand is at Silfra within the Þingvellir National Park. What’s extra, that is the one place on this planet the place you may snorkel between two continents.

Silfra and the Þingvellir valley, located inside Iceland’s Golden Circle, had been fashioned by the divergent tectonic drift of the the 2 plates which drift about 2 cm farther aside yearly. This builds rigidity between the plates and the earth mass above which is relieved by periodic main earthquakes that happen at roughly ten 12 months intervals. These earthquakes create cracks and fissures and Silfra, which lies on the rim of the Þingvallavatn Lake, is likely one of the largest and deepest of those fissures.

This fissure is fed by meltwater from Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull, which seeps underground into porous basalta lava rock earlier than percolating by an aquifer over a interval of 30-100 years. This extremely filtered groundwater fills fissures such because the one at Silfra, making it exceptionally clear and of big enchantment snorkelers and scuba divers, significantly given the distinctive location between two tectonic plates.

There are a variety of corporations that provide snorkeling and diving experiences.  We went with DIVE.IS who’re one of many specialists for this explicit exercise and the longest operating dive and snorkel firm in Iceland. The course of was fairly straight ahead – we simply turned up on the Silfra assembly level, had our reserving and disclaimers checked behind a van (it’s necessary for each DIVE.IS participant to fill out a medical kind), and we had been good to go. With sure medical situations resembling coronary heart illness, epilepsy or lung illness, it’s sadly not potential to participate. With sure different medical situations resembling bronchial asthma, hypertension, vertigo or most cancers, you may solely take part if you happen to get medical clearance from a physician.

We had been then assigned a information who would accompany us on the snorkeling tour – in our case, a gentleman named Pau from Spain – earlier than being directed to a different van to get right into a drysuit.  Why all of the vans you may surprise?  It’s as a result of Silfa is  a UNESCO World Heritage Area and new constructing constructions will not be allowed within the space.

In addition to a drysuit every, we had been after all kitted out with flippers, and a snorkel and masks, too. The flies is usually a little bit of a nuisance so you may also wish to borrow considered one of their mosquito and midge head nets if you happen to discover them bothersome.

The swimsuit has seals on the neck and wrists that cease water from getting in. These might be tight and generally an extra rubber strap must be worn across the neck. This might be fairly uncomfortable – if you happen to really feel it’s too tight, ask your information to examine it for you.

We had been additionally supplied with neoprene hoods and semi-dry neoprene gloves. Our heads and arms had been uncovered to the water by these however that was completely OK. A small a part of our faces weren’t coated by the hood and these had been the one components of us that had been in direct contact with the water.

Snorkelers are launched in small batches, usually round six individuals plus a information, so there’s a brief queue as individuals wait to enter the water nevertheless it served as a chance to have a household picture taken, even when it’s a wrestle to establish who’s who!

Although some operators provide this expertise in a wetsuit, DIVE.IS solely present dry fits for the exercise. The solely benefit I can consider for sporting a wetsuit could be that you simply’d have the ability to dive down beneath the floor a bit of which you’ll’t simply do in a dry swimsuit. Given that you’re within the water for 30-40 minutes and the water temperature is 2° Celsius, a dry swimsuit might be a greater possibility. Whatever you select, it’s really helpful that individuals have eaten breakfast or lunch earlier than the exercise due to the size of time spent within the chilly water.

Once your time involves enter the water, your information will discuss you thru the method. There is a metallic staircase that leads immediately into the water (you may see it within the distance within the {photograph}) – we simply walked down these and, earlier than we knew it, we had been face-down within the water.  The very first thing that struck me wasn’t the chilly – it actually wasn’t that dangerous – however simply how clear the water was.  The water is extraordinarily pure and astonishly clear, and it’s estimated that the underwater visibility is greater than 100 metres… fairly unbelievable!

If you might have learn different articles about Silfra, you will have seen individuals describe having the ability to outstretch their arms and contact each tectonic plates on the identical time after they dived.  This is quite deceptive to say the least – or they’ve exceptionally lengthy arms – because the tectonic plates are 5 kilometres aside!  Remember, this can be a fissure that’s fashioned due to an earthquake because of the diverging plates.

As we drifted within the water, mesmerised by the underwater spectacle round us, Pau swam amongst our group taking images of us on a GoPro. If you wish to make your Silfra expertise a long-lasting reminiscence, you should buy these as a part of your tour with DIVE.IS and they’re going to ship you a Dropbox hyperlink after the snorkeling tour in an effort to obtain the images to your gadget.

Meanwhile, we continued to marvel on the perfectly-filtered crystal clear water which is probably the clearest and most pristine water on the planet. Because the water is so clear, the sunshine performs upon the floor like glittering diamonds – on sunny days, the rays go to nice depths, even creating rainbows on the rocks as a result of the clear water refracts gentle in the identical manner that crystals do.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime expertise that’s certain to be a spotlight of your time in Iceland!

You’ll hardly ever see fish in Silfra however you will note a variety of various kinds of algae, together with vivid, neon inexperienced ‘troll hair’ algae that offers the rocks an impressive spalsh of color.


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In locations, Silfra is definitely surpisingly deep – as much as 63 metres deep – though only a few divers go to something like these depths.

There is a slight present in Silfra and individuals have to be snug swimming in opposition to it over the last a part of the tour, however it’s actually not that robust so manageable even for novice swimmers.

Once we lastly obtained on dry land, we had been equipped with scorching chocolate which was a really welcome pick-me-up after our time within the chilly water.

Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You can watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here. You can see footage from Silfra between 1m 26s and 1m 49s:

Disclosure: This put up is sponsored by DIVE.IS. Our journey to Iceland was additionally sponsored by Helly Hansen.





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